Asia Pacific Rail 2017 Event Highlights: Interview with Biren Parmar

Asia Pacific Rail was successfully organised from 21-22 March 2017. This year’s edition was our biggest and best yet, with more than 1,500 attendees from 668 organisation and 38 countries, cementing Asia Pacific Rail’s position as the must-attend annual gathering of APAC rail industry’s leaders and decision-makers.

The Metro-Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) is a mass transit rail system for the cities of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar in Gujarat, India that is currently under construction with a 2020 completion date. We sat down with Mr. Biren Parmar, Director (Finance), MEGA onsite to find out more about the progress of the project.

1. Could you tell us more about your role at MEGA? 

My role as Director of Finance is to evaluate all the bids and allocate tenders. I ensure that there is transparency, competition in the process and to see that the finances are well-spent.

2. What is the current development status of the project? 

Ours is a project with an equity and loan agreement, which is approximately USD1.4 billion. We have equity from the Government of India, state governments and JICA loan contributes approximately 60% of the amount. This is our financial set-up and structure.

We have given away all the civil construction related tenders. We have 40km of lines on the North-South and East-West corridors. Right now, we are in the process of finalising the rolling stock, telecommunications, signalling, AFC, etc. We are in the process of giving away all these systems-related tenders. All these tenders are equivalent to slightly less than half a billion USD.

3. What are the key challenges?

Now that we have secured the finances, we face the issue of implementation more than anything else. Implementation are related to land acquisition, because we have to follow JICA guidelines in carrying out resettlement and rehabilitation.

It’s a mix of population, with middle-class and also lower-mid class. They do not have proper papers where they are staying. There may be legal issues associated with acquiring such land. Another challenge is how do we spend the funds properly and fully utilise them in an efficient and economic way.

4. Lastly, how did you find the event? Did you enjoy it? 

My exposure to metro is very short. In fact, I joined the metro business only last year. At the event, I see the staff who have worked for over 30 years in the industry at the highest level.  Listening to them and understanding their viewpoints have really helped me understand how I can better implement my metro. It’s a great learning experience. I’m a novice in metro but I have understood more about the metro business through Asia Pacific Rail.

Want to find out the latest updates in the Asia-Pacific rail industry? Join us at Asia Pacific Rail 2018 to meet the rail leaders.

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